ary Neville has accused Roman Abramovich of taking a ‘cowardly approach’ and ‘throwing a hospital pass’ after handing over stewardship of Chelsea to the club’s charity board .
Abramovich announced on Saturday night that he would step down from managing the club, with “stewardship and care” passed to the trustees of the Chelsea Foundation, a group led by chairman Bruce Buck.
The 55-year-old’s ownership has come under scrutiny following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in which several other Russian oligarchs were hit with government sanctions British.
Abramovich was not affected, but Labor MP Chris Bryant this week called for his assets to be frozen or seized.
Blues boss Thomas Tuchel has admitted the situation has been a ‘distraction’ in the build-up to Sunday’s Carabao Cup final against Liverpool and speaking ahead of that match, former Man United defender Neville , gave his point of view.
“I think when the news broke last night myself and most others thought it was a noble gesture and the right thing to do,” Neville said on Sky Sports. “But if you look at who is in the charitable trust, people like [Chelsea Women’s manager] Emma Hayes, Piara Powar who created Kick It Out, [sports lawyer] John Devine, it’s abundantly clear that they won’t be managing Chelsea.
“One of the smartest things Roman Abramovich has done in the past 20 years is not to talk, not to make statements. Last night’s statement raised other questions.
“If anything, I thought it was a cowardly approach to throw a hospital pass at good people on the charity board when it’s quite clear that he leads Chelsea with Petr Cech and Marina on the football side, as Thomas Tuchel has just clarified.
“The owners of the top six clubs live in an isolated form of reality. They think they can put a smart PR team around them and scam us, but it doesn’t work that way. There’s no way the charitable foundation is running the club and I’m not sure why Roman Abramovich made this statement.
“If he wants to make a statement of greater value, it would be whether he supports the war in Ukraine or does not support the war in Ukraine.”